How to create a Christmas hamper

There’s lots of great reasons to create a homemade hamper. You can save money with homemade preserves and treats, instead of paying for teensy jams, packaging and delivery charges. It’s more sustainable too, especially if you use a second-hand basket and plastic-free packaging. Know a vegan foodie, coffee lover or budding mixologist? You can create a themed box of delights just for them.

Fill your hamper with a mix of shop-bought goodies and homemade treats. There’s 12 homemade gift recipes below to inspire you…

How to make a hamper

Start with the container. If you’ve got time, scour charity shops, Vinted or eBay for an old picnic hamper. Hobby CraftHomeSense and budget retailers like The Range are good places to source a new basket. Alternatively, use a large, sturdy gift box. Stash any that you receive this year away for making next year’s hampers, too!

Alternative vessels include a beautiful serving platter, roasting tray or baking dish, or even a cast-iron pot like Le Creuset if you have the budget. Again, look out for second-hand gems. Fill them up with themed goodies (e.g. cake cases and baking ingredients in a cake tin) and the container becomes part of the present.

Making your own hamper is a good way to cut down on plastic packaging. Reuse jars for homemade condiments (sterilise them first) and wrap packages in wax or kraft paper. Pack out the hamper with natural shredded paper (available online, or from Poundland or craft stores). If you’ve got a shredder, you could shred newspapers or colourful magazine pages with the staples removed (not delicious. obviously – that one’s a keeper).

What to put in a homemade hamper

A big advantage of DIY hampers is you can fill them with more goodies than you’d get for the same price in a shop-bought version. Go for at least five items of varying shapes and sizes. Fail-safe favourites include jams, chutneys, savoury and sweet biscuits, spirits, teas and coffee and chocolates. Make sure products are ambient (as in they don’t need to be stored in the fridge until opened), and choose mostly items a long shelf life, with perhaps one or two eat-them-up-soon items like homemade chocolates or biscuits. A related non-edible gift adds the finishing touch – think a small cookbook, beautiful tea towel or mug.

Themed Christmas hamper ideas

Vegan
Build a hamper packed with plant-based treats. Think premium store-cupboard items like olive oil, porcini mushrooms and nutritional yeast to add oomph to savoury cookery. Many wines and beers are vegan-friendly (but check the label). Add a cookbook and vegan versions of Christmas treats they’d sometimes miss out on: mince pies, festive biscuits or chocs, like these homemade vegan chocolate truffles.

Favourite cuisine
Customise your gift to their favourite cuisine, whether that’s Indian, Italian, Greek or Korean. Hispanophiles will love a box packed with Spanish olives, tins of pimenton, paella rice and a paella dish. A Mexican hamper could include ancho chillies and a tortilla press. Sous Chef, Spice Mountain and Mexgrocer are reliable online sources for harder-to-find spices, condiments and ingredients.

Coffee lover’s hamper
Some beans from your local roastery, an Aeropress milk frother or cafetiere, those moreish dark chocolate-covered espresso beans and a reuseable cup or earthenware mug add up to the ideal gift for coffee nerds.

Baking hamper
For the wannabe Bake Off contestant in your life. Think premium ingredients like quality vanilla extract, French baking chocolate or rose water. Non-edible additions could include a pretty spatula, apron or cookbook.

Budding mixologist
One for the cocktail makers and shakers. Include classic or flavoured spirits, bitters and mixers, plus a shaker, strainer or cocktail recipe book. Sous Chef is great go-to for cocktail ingredients.

Gingerbread house kit hamper
A dream gift for children – or those who love to decorate cakes and cookies. Bake up the gingerbread house panels and box up with a piping bag, printed assembly instructions and assortment of sweets to adorn the gingerbread cottage.

A hamper containing components to make a gingerbread house for Christmas hamper ideas

Add a homemade gift…

Choose from 12 of our best homemade food gifts to add to your hamper. We’ve got everything from classic jam and chutney to fiery chilli oil and indulgent DIY chocolate bark.

Wine jelly

This fragrant preserve goes beautifully with cheese and crackers, and can be made months ahead of time.

Wine jelly, spread on a cracker with cheese in the foreground, and in jars in the background for Christmas hamper ideas

Homemade crispy chilli oil

One for the chilli lovers and a great addition to a ramen-themed hamper, along with noodles and Japanese condiments.

A close up of the surface of chilli oil with. star anise and cinnamon sticks floating in it for Christmas hamper ideas

Orangettes

A French classic. Orangettes are candied orange peels dipped in dark chocolate.

Chocolate-dipped candied orange peels laid out on a surface and layered into a box for Christmas hamper ideas

Bottled chocolate orange negroni

Pop a bottle of this homemade cocktail into a chocolate or cocktail-themed hamper.

Three bottles of negroni, wrapped with ribbon, for Christmas hamper ideas
Sea salt caramels

These salted caramels are surprisingly easy to make and look beautiful in twists of wax paper.

Batons of salted caramel scattered on a blue surface, for Christmas hamper ideas

Christmas cranberry jam

Jam is a hamper MVP, and this one is extra Christmassy thanks to the cranberries and festive spices.

Jars of cranberry jam for Christmas hamper ideas

Peppermint creams

Remember peppermint creams? This traditional homemade gift is a fun one to make with kids – and they look great.

An array of peppermint creams in boxes for Christmas hamper ideas

Spiced lebkuchen

The traditional German Christmas biscuits are a welcome addition to a classic or baking-themed hamper.

Star-shaped lebkuchen biscuits with white icing spilling off a plate onto the table, for Christmas hamper ideas

Honey roast nuts

Once cooled, these honey roast nuts will keep in a sterilised, air-tight jar for up to a month and make a perfect pre-dinner nibble with cocktails.

Honey roast nuts tumbling out of a brown paper bag, for Christmas hamper ideas

Mulling spice apple biscuits for cheese

Have a go at making your own biscuits for cheese with this recipe for parmesan and apple oatcakes with a hint of mulling spices.

Circular biscuits on a platter with slices of cheese, for Christmas hamper ideas

Dark chocolate bark

A grown-up chocolate offering. This vegan-friendly dark chocolate bark is topped with rosemary, sea salt, pistachios and candied peel. Have they got a sweeter tooth? Try our white chocolate bark with waffles and marshmallows.

A close-up of dark chocolate studded with pistachios and a sprig of rosemary, for Christmas hamper ideas

Squash, apple and date chutney

Chutney is another hamper stalwart, and a homemade offering feels extra special. If you didn’t get around to preserving summer’s bounty there’s still plenty of squash and apples in season.

Three clear jars of chutney, for Christmas hamper ideas

Need more ideas? Check out all our food gift recipes and Christmas baking ideas. Run out of time to make your own hamper? Here’s all our foodie gift guides and our pick of 2023’s best hampers.

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